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On Suicide Essay

1128 words - 5 pages

The Scottish philosopher and pivotal figure of the Enlightenment David Hume?s essay On Suicide is an attempt to support the alleged right of people to end their lives through suicide. Hume addressed many core issues in the debate over the fundamental concept of human dignity and generates a specific understanding of the role of a divine being in the world. Hume?s argument supporting the right to suicide is based on sound reasoning; through showing that suicide neither offends one?s obligation to God nor society.Hume recognizes that the core of the case against the right to end one?s life is that it would be a rejection of an obligation to God. He breaks this argument down into parts and refutes then independently, ultimately showing that it is irrational to fear suicide for religious reasons. One case against suicide for religious reasons is the idea that it would be rebellion against God?s will. This is based on the idea that God desires certain actions and that we must not oppose them, and one of these is the complete survival of humans until death is inevitable. Hume claims that the manner in which God goes about enacting his will is through the ?immutable laws that have been established from the beginning of time.? Often people view these laws as solely inanimate principles, such as laws of motion and regulation, yet there is another aspect of animate principles such as passion, and judgment that help bring about God?s will. Through both these animate and inanimate principles all actions are controlled. Animate principles motivated by our desire for ease, happiness, and preservation can cause us to alter inanimate principles as far as our power extends. An example of this can be seen in the animate principle of desire for ease of transportation that then is manifested in the inanimate principle of bulldozers and asphalt, which physically builds the road. The act of suicide is no different, our animate desire for end of suffering, which is an operation of God, then manifests itself in the inanimate act of ending life. Therefore the act of suicide, if one is driven to such extreme measures, is an act of the immutable laws that God created. To be arbitrarily opposed to suicide would be not support of God?s will as St. Thomas Aquinas saw it, but would be opposition of the will of God. This is a clear and argument which causes one to realize that fearing the use of a power God endowed to man is merely irrational.In response to this aspect of Hume?s argument some anti-suicide philosophers claim that the animate and inanimate principles used by God to operate the universe do not apply to human life, that in fact human life is the sole responsibility of the deity and that he directly intervenes to control that instead of using animate and inanimate principles, thus making suicide rebellion against God?s control. Hume addresses this specific argument by if human life is God?s sole responsibility then not only is taking it rejection of his authority...

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